President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis meets with Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas for talks in Bellinzona

Bern, 06.08.2022 - The talks between President Cassis and Prime Minister Kallas focused not only on bilateral relations and the war in Ukraine, but also on European policy. The use of new technologies in foreign policy was also discussed.

President Cassis received Prime Minister Kallas in Bellinzona's Town Hall on 6 August. During the official meeting, they paid tribute to their countries' good bilateral relations and emphasised their intention to further expand and intensify ties in future.   

The topics discussed also included digitalisation-related cooperation and Switzerland's Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23, which heavily stresses the use of new technologies in foreign policy. Estonia is a pioneer in digitalisation in particular: the country has digitalised 99% of its public services. For its part, Switzerland has extensive expertise in new technologies. President Cassis and Prime Minister Kallas agreed that their countries should further expand the win-win digitalisation-focused cooperation.

The war in Ukraine was also a core topic. Estonia and Switzerland strongly condemn the Russian aggression against Ukraine and demand the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops. President Cassis stressed Switzerland's great concern in connection with alleged war crimes: "Switzerland condemns all violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. War crimes and crimes against humanity must be investigated and prosecuted by independent actors – regardless of who committed them." Cassis also explained how Switzerland is currently helping to address the crisis by providing humanitarian aid on the ground, taking in Ukrainian refugees without red tape and adopting the EU sanctions against Russia and Belarus.

He emphasised that now that Switzerland has kicked off Ukraine's coordinated recovery process through the URC2022 in Lugano, the process must be guided by the implementation of the principles set out in the Lugano Declaration.

Switzerland supports Estonia with CHF 26 million

Cassis and Kallas also discussed Switzerland's European policy. Cassis underlined that Switzerland and the EU share the same values and goals and that Switzerland therefore wants to stabilise and further develop the bilateral path with the EU. Within the framework of the second Swiss contribution to selected EU member states, an amount of CHF 26 million is earmarked for Estonia. This provides an opportunity for Estonia and Switzerland to work together in the areas of integration and biodiversity. Switzerland's second contribution to selected EU member states demonstrates the country's commitment to actively promote stability, security and prosperity in Europe.

Kallas' visit to Switzerland comes a year after Cassis visited Tallinn on his Baltic tour celebrating the two-fold anniversary with the Baltic states: the centenary of the recognition of their independence and the 30 years since the resumption of diplomatic relations following the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the first years of Estonia's independence, Switzerland provided financial support to the country.

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